In The Absence of FDA Testing
A new report finds that that scary Halloween paint that may make your little one into a ghoul or a ghost this season may be scary for what you don't know - that it contains lead, nickel and other dangerous toxins that can cause learning disabilities, lifelong skin sensitization, fertility problems, and contact dermatitis.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a nonprofit consumer group, tested samples of cosmetic face paint and found all had heavy metals that do not appear on the label.
The findings are issued in a report, “Pretty Scary".
“Parents should not have to worry that face paint contains lead and other hazardous substances, and they have a right to know what’s in these products.
"Clearly, companies are not making the safest products possible for children, even though kids are particularly vulnerable to toxic exposures,” said Lisa Archer, national coordinator of the Campaign, part of the Breast Cancer Fund.
The FDA does not test cosmetics or face paints. Why not?
Stacy Malkan of the Campaign tells IB News " The FDA has little authority over cosmedics under the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. It can't require recalls or that companies list their components where the heavy metals come in."
So in the absence of federal authority, the Campaign sent 10 brands of Halloween face paint obtained at a Halloween store to a lab for testing.
What they found:
All 10 samples contained lead ranging from 0.05 to 0.65 parts per million (ppm)
* Six out of 10 samples also contained nickel, cobalt and/or chromium at levels from 1.6 to 120 ppm the industry standard is 1 ppm. In 2008, nickel was designated “Allergen of the Year” by the American Contact Dermatitis Society and is banned for use in cosmetics in the European Union.
* The sample that called itself “non-toxic” and “hypoallergenic” Snazaroo Face Paint, contained some of the highest levels of metals. "FDA compliant has no meaning" says Malkan.
* Hair colors banned or restricted in Europe, Canada, and Japan contain colors not approved for use in cosmetics by the FDA. Heavy metals would have to be tested in the ingredients before the raw materials are assembled to make the final product, but the FDA does not require they be tested for purity.
Face paints are also used year-found at children’s fairs, theater, and carnivals. The ingredients can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled and ingested.
Lead exposure can impact growing children by interfering with the functioning of the nervous system, slowing IQ development, interfere with fertility and impacting learning.
Lead is also toxic to organs, the heart, bones, intestines, and kidneys.
There is no safe level of lead exposure and its effects are cumulative. In addition to an impact on children, lead exposure during prenatal development can impact the fetus by crossing the placenta to affect the developing baby, one of the reasons led is banned from cosmetics in Canada and Europe.
The cosmetics industry argues that the low levels in cosmetics are not a health risk.
The paints tested include: Alex Face Paint Studio- Made in China
Ben Nye LW Lumiere Cream Wheel – Made in USA
Crafty Dab Face Paints Push Up Crayons – Made in China
Don Post Grease Paint Color Wheel – Made in China
Jovi Make-up – Made in Spain
Wolfe Brothers Face Art – Made in China and sold with Klutz Face Painting book
Mehron Glow in the Dark – Made in the US
Rubie’s Silver Metallic – Made in US
Snazaroo Face Painting Kit – Made in UK
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a national coalition of nonprofit women’s environmental and safety organizations with a goal of protecting consumers by phasing out the use of chemicals in personal care products.
The consumer group has essentially taken over the job of testing for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which does not conduct routine resting of cosmetic products and has no authority to require cosmetics companies to do premarket safety assessments of their products, or to list heavy metals found in personal care products.
Malkin tells IB News that the FDA could do testing and issue guidelines working with companies to put out products that have low or no metals.
"Their recommendtions would carry a lot of weight" she says.
In 2007, the group issued a report, “A Poison Kiss: The Problem of Lead in Lipstick,” and found more than half of the 33 brand-name lipsticks tested contained detectable levels of lead, none of which was listed on the label.
In 2009, the FDA did a follow-up study finding lead in 20 lipsticks it tested, at levels more than four times higher than those found in the Campaign study.
What can consumers do?
First, obtain a lead testing kit from a number of companies. Check Consumer Reports - Lead Test Strips or IB News for more on lead test strips.
Check Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” report, an online database of nearly 25,000 personal care products. Look for specific brands or ingredients, or by toxins. Two phthalates that are human reproductive endocrine disruptors commonly found in cosmetics are dibutyl and diethylhexyl commonly hidden in cosmetics, nail polish and hair sprays as “fragrance.”
You are advised to steer clear of any products that contain “fragrance” for young children.
The Campaign’s “A Little Prettier” report tested cosmetic product for phthalates. #